Sep. 5, 2021 -- COVID-19 cases, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations increased from June to August for children up to age 17, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Vaccinations are apparently a factor in the numbers. The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) said during a two-week period last August, ER visits for children up to age 17 were 3.4 times higher in states with the lowest vaccination rates compared to states with the highest vaccination rates. Hospitalizations were 3.7 times higher.
A second CDC report found that COVID hospitalizations among children and adolescents increased five-fold from late June to mid-August, a time when the Delta variant was infecting thousands of people in the U.S.
The number of hospitalizations for unvaccinated adolescents was 10 times the number for vaccinated adolescents during that time.
The government authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children 12 and up last May. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are only authorized for people 18 and up.
But the two CDC studies were not conclusive that the Delta variant was sending more children and teenagers to the ER and the hospital.
“The proportions of hospitalized children and adolescents with severe disease were similar before and during the period of Delta predominance,” the second CDC report said.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, discussed the two CDC studies on Thursday during a news briefing, noting that the data does not show the Delta variant caused more sickness in children.
“And although we are seeing more cases in children, and more overall cases, these studies demonstrated that there was not increased disease severity in children. Instead, more children have COVID-19 because there is more disease in the community," she said.
“What is clear from these data is community-level vaccination coverage protects our children.”
Despite the alarming increases described in the two CDC reports, “COVID incidence” among children is still much lower than during the peak of January 2021.
The CDC said that in January there were 21.2 cases per 100,000 children aged 0-4, 30.1 cases per 100,000 children aged 5-11, and 51.7 cases per 100,000 children aged 12-17.
In June, the numbers dropped to a low of 1.7, 1.9, and 2.9 in those age groups, respectively. In August, the numbers rose to 16.2, 28.5, and 32.7 in those age groups, respectively.